AARP Recognizes Family Caregivers Across United States
November is National Family Caregiver Month
ROANOKE_ Senator Mark Warner and AARP Virginia will present AARP’s Portrait of Care to Trequita Trials at the Virginia Women’s Conference at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, November 21 at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.
November marks National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize the 40 million Americans – including more than 1 million from Virginia – who help older parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be. The unpaid care they provide – managing medications, cooking meals, driving to appointments, performing complex medical tasks and more – is valued at about $11.7 billion annually in Virginia alone.
Trequita Trials from Roanoke is one of these unsung heroes. She says, “I read an article about caregiving and it reminded me that no matter how frustrated I felt, my mother was frustrated even more!”
AARP Virginia is recognizing Trials with a Portrait of Care – an artist’s painting of her with her mother. Randomly selected through AARP’s storytelling initiative, I Heart Caregivers (aarp.org/iheartcaregivers), Trials is one of 53 family caregivers from every state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands receiving a hand-painted portrait. Thousands have shared their stories on the site.
Read the story Trequita Trials submitted to iHeartCaregivers.
Trials retired to provide full-time care for her mother, Evelyn, who was diagnosed with COPD after a stroke. Evelyn had been a stay at home mom, and she and her husband had three children together. After her husband passed away, she worked part-time at a local elementary school.
“Mama was the local school granny,” Trials laughed. “She was very independent and enjoyed living on her own.”
Evelyn’s third stroke caused her to be hospitalized for two weeks. Trials and her son stayed in Evelyn’s home with her for two months. No other family members were available to care for Evelyn. As her health declined, Trials knew it was time for Evelyn to move.
“We sold mom’s home, her assets, and she came to live with me,” Trials said.
Because she didn’t have flexibility at work, she retired early to care for her mother. Over eight years, as her mother’s health deteriorated, Trials administered breathing treatments and medications and bathed her every day. A home health aide visited daily to assist.
“Mama never liked getting up early so I made sure to give her some time,” she said.
Trials, 58, said it’s important for caregivers to learn what resources are available to them.
“I reached a burnout point before I found the Center for Healthy Aging, but it’s not like someone’s reaching out to you. I would have loved to know what resources were available early on,” she said.
AARP Virginia provides resources to caregivers through local community workshops, along with online tools. State and federal advocacy efforts also focus on help for caregivers.
“While family caregivers don’t ask for recognition, their stories of hope, love, dedication and perseverance need to be celebrated – especially during National Family Caregivers Month,” said Jim Dau, State Director of AARP Virginia, which serves more than one million Virginians age 50 and older. “Family caregivers also need to know that they are not alone, and that resources are out there to help them,”
Trials’ mother passed away in September 2014.
“As I look back over the trials we faced, I can truly say that I am so very thankful that the good times outweigh the bad. As the process of healing continues, I try to stay STRONG like my MAMA!” she reflected.
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center is located at 110 Shenandoah Avenue, Roanoke, Virginia, 24016. The Virginia Women’s Conference will take place from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. AARP’s Portrait of Care will be presented at 9:30 a.m.
Supporting Family Caregivers
“Family caregivers are the foundation of our care system, that play a selfless part in helping older Virginians and other loved ones remain in their own homes and communities,” Dau said.
In 2015, AARP successfully fought for:
- The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable – CARE – Act. This supports family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital, and provides training on medical tasks they will need to perform once their loved ones return home.
- Hospitals to provide oral and written notice to any patient placed under observational status. Observation may affect the patient’s Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance reimbursement.
- Increased funding for the Virginia Public Guardianship and Conservator Program.
“Chances are that you either are a caregiver, will be a caregiver, or will need a caregiver,” said Dau. “Every day, AARP Virginia elevates the voices of family caregivers at the state capitol to make this kind of support a reality, because supporting them is a priority for all of us.”
As the 2016 state legislative session approaches, AARP Virginia is gearing up to work for:
- Increased respite care that allows family caregivers to take a hard-earned break.
- Legislation to cut through the red tape and allow nurses to have the full authority to heal.
- Fully staffing the long term care ombudsman program to meet the Virginia standard of 1 ombudsman for every 2000 nursing home and assisted living facility beds. This requires a 233% budget increase.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org ; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org .